Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Scene for May 31, 2013

This Monday, June 3, the South Florida Theatre League presents Stages of the Sun: Readings by South Florida Playwrights at the Broward Center's intimate Abdo New River Room.  It's part of the Summer Theatre Fest 2013, presented by WLRN and the Theatre League.
For Monday's reading, there will be eight different one act plays by member playwrights Mary Damiano, Anne Dichele, Barbara Fox, Marsha Meyers, Catherine Pearson, Michael Rutenberg, Tere Starr, and David Victor. This fast paced evening offers wit and whimsy and some unexpected surprises.
The League has built an entry for The Great Coconut Grove Bed Race.  The bed will be making appearances across South Florida this summer, giving you opportunity to "Get in Bed with the Arts!"
Until then, here's what's playing on the scene this weekend.


Brighton Beach Memoirs opens at the Broward Stage Door Theater, through June 30.

you still haven't missed...

Outré Theatre Company presents its fully realized version of tick... tick... BOOM! at the Mizner Park Cultural Arts Center through June 9, 2013.

 Thinking Cap Theatre presents WAAFRICA at Empire Stage through June 9, 2013.
 Palm Beach Dramaworks critically acclaimed production of Dancing at Lughnasa plays through June 16, 2013.
Another favorite with critics, Cock, plays at GableStage through June 16, 2013.
Teatro en Miami Studio offers Chat through June 22nd.

Apparently, My Son The Waiter was extended through June 30 at the Broward Stage Door Theater.  And as fare as we can tell, no one has reviewed it.  Anyone see a review?  Let us know.

last chance to see...
White Rose Miami is performing The Pillowman somewhere around Miami.  Check their Facebook page for details.

Road Through Heaven winds it up at New Theatre on June 2, 2013.

Actors' Playhouse nifty production of The Fox on the Fairway winds up its run at the Miracle Theater this Sunday, June 2, 2013..

community and conservatory...

Andrews Living Arts Studio presents Rent through June 16.

Sylvia opens at the Delray Beach Playhouse this weekend, through June 2.
I’m Still Here!: Harold Prince – The Man Who Transformed Broadway (Part Two: 1970 – Present) also plays at the Delray Beach Playhouse through June 5.

for kids...

The Miami Children's Theater presents Legally Blonde at the Alper JCC through June 2.
Inanna and the Huluppu Tree winds up its triumphant revival the Miami Theater Center on June 2, 2013

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Outré Theatre Co.: tick tick BOOM (3 reviews)

Outré Theatre Company opened its production of tick... tick... BOOM! at the Mizner Park Cultural Arts Center on May 24, 2013.
Jonathan Larson, the creator of the Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize winning musical Rent, penned this autobiographical musical which tells the story of an aspiring composer living in Soho at the end of the 1980s. Torn between the struggles of trying to achieve his dreams and the siren song of a settled, middle-class life, Johnny searches for the courage to risk everything in the pursuit of his art. His girlfriend wants to settle down and raise a family, his best friend is a financially successful ad executive — and Johnny waits tables and composes as he strives for his big break.
Skye Whitcomb directed a cast that included Mike Westrich, Sabrina Lynn Gore, and Jerel Brown.

Bill Hirschman reviewed for Florida Theater On Stage:
Built around an impassioned and winning performance by Mike Westrich as Larson’s stand-in, Artistic Director Skye Whitcomb and Music Director Kristen Long have created an emotionally satisfying evening worth the trip to Boca Raton.
tick reaffirms Westrich’s emergence as a promising talent enhanced by an engaging charisma... His Jon here has a kind of 21st Century riff on Woody Allen’s likeable neurotic urbanite with jangly nerves. He is blessed with a fine voice that can kick butt when lusting after a BMW or fervently caress ballad lyrics
Gore, who starred as Queenie in Outré’s The Wild Party, exudes a smoldering sensuality and vocal vulnerability her rendition of Superbia’s signature number “Come To Your Senses.”  Brown, who played the protective friend in Slow Burn’s Side Show, is also effective in such numbers as “No More” and his duet with Jon, “Therapy.”
Danny Butler’s sound design under Giordan Diaz’s stage management adapted early on and enabled the lyrics to be comprehensible most of the time. Stefanie Howard’s lighting was emotionally evocative although it seemed awfully fidgety, switching many times in the course of a single number.
Michelle Solomon wrote for miamiartzine:
Outré Theatre Company’s tick, tick...BOOM! is a wonderful interpretation of this New York-centric romp.
The cast knows how to deliver the rock-tempo songs and a wonderful four-piece band, led by music director Kristen Long (a musical composer herself), never misses a beat.
Westrich has a strong voice and is a talented actor and it's really what's necessary for a show like this to be successful. He is confident and acts as the centerpiece that keeps everything accelerating around him, as well as it should be.
Gore as Susan/Karessa/Agent (who was so fetching in Outre’s Wild Party) has one of the night's most haunting and memorable numbers when she sings Come To Your Senses...
As Michael, Johnny's best friend, Brown wears the part perfectly. He’s at his best when he needs to play different characters such as Johnny’s cigar-chomping father...
Skye Whitcomb’s direction keeps the show moving along with plenty of crescendos in all the right places. He’s also credited, along with Nori Tecosky, for the scenic design. It shows in how he uses every inch of the set’s space − pieces, with their musical embellishments, which are bright and colorful, and are perfectly in keeping with the tone of the show.

The production’s depth of understanding adds yet another layer to Larson’s delightful and introspective show. “With only so much time to spend, I don’t want to waste the time I’m given,” Johnny sings. You’ll leave the theater thinking about your own passions and soul searching, while feeling like your time spent with Johnny was well worth it.

 Richard Cameron gushed for The Examiner:
Outre Theatre Company's mission states theatre should be raw, visceral, thought-provoking and action-inducing, well they are right on point with there brave new choices in musicals, that have not been shared with Florida theatre audiences.
The cast do an excellent job retelling Larson's journey. Mike Westrich (Johnny) just seen recently in the critically acclaimed BRTG production of "Chicago" stands out as the lead with his vocal talents and acting choices. Sabrina Lynn Gore (Susan) who shined as the star of "The Wild Party" for Outre Theatre Company, once again proves you could give her any role and she would find every unique way to make it her own. Jarel Brown seen as chorus in BRTG production of "Chicago" gets his largest role to date. Jarel sings with his wonderful raspy vocals. His acting may not be as strong as his counter parts but the "tick tick Boom!" journey is delivered.
Skye Whitcomb's production values in "tick tick Boom!" are again above a few local theatres... Whitcomb has secured a live band under the direction of Kristen Long... The sound by Danny Butler is better than ever! Light design by Stephanie Howard is almost perfect...

Outré Theatre Company presents tick... tick... BOOM! at the Mizner Park Cultural Arts Center through June 9, 2013.

Off Stage Conversations

Hello everyone, it's Andie Arthur, executive director of the South Florida Theatre League, here with Off Stage Conversations, where I take a look at what's happening in the national and international theatre community.

But first... we're launching the Summer Theatre Fest next week, so please get in bed with the arts with us sometime over the next three months! There's play readings, free night of theatre, and the opportunity to get back in bed with the arts again.

The Tension between Commercial and Non-for-Profit Theatre

Diane Ragsdale has published In the Intersection: Partnerships in the New Play Sector, about the partnerships between commercial and non-profit theatre companies. While I haven't read the report yet (it's now on my kindle), I have read two thoughtful responses to it: Tory Bailey (the Executive Director of the Theatre Development Fund) provides a good overview of the history and of the conversations that generated the report and Todd London (the Artistic Director of New Dramatists) talks about how these partnerships distract from mission and further divide artists from administrators.

Bringing Together Different Audiences

Museum 2.0 looks at the age old problem that a museum is supposed to be for everyone, but marketing to everyone means appealing to no one. Their solution -- bringing together very different niche audiences with social bridging.

Overhead isn't evil

The Guardian has a piece on how good charities spend more on overhead in order to better fulfill their missions, despite the call for low-overhead from funders.

And Solid Funding Advice

A short piece on word of mouth fundraising.

Theatre Companies: Please stop doing this

An actor remarks on why he's tired of being an Asian Actor. A funny/sad look at white washing in casting from the point of view of the not cast.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Thinking Cap Theatre: WAAFRIKA (reviews)

Thinking Cap Theatre opened its production of Nick Mwaluko's WAAFRICA at Empire Stage on May 23, 2013.
Set in 1992 in a remote village outside of Nairobi just after the nation's first democratic elections, WAAFRIKA explores the struggle between traditional African values and self-identity.  Awino, a young Kenyan woman and a member of the Luo tribe, defies the codes of her community when she falls in love with Bobby, a white, American woman and former peace corps worker. Can their love survive?
Nicole Stodard directed a cast that featured Makeba Pace, Kim Ehly, John Archie, Carey Hart, Renee Turner, and Stephon Duncan.

Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:
Fort Lauderdale’s Thinking Cap Theatre has just opened its bold production of Waafrika, a shattering and shocking play centered on the relationship of a lesbian couple in Kenya in 1992. 
The content of Waafrika and the play’s impassioned interpretation by director Nicole Stodard and her fearless cast are powerful, even overwhelming at times. But the script is not particularly well written, leaving the actors to make more of it (which they generally do) than Mwaluko’s words give them. Waafrika doesn’t begin to touch the brilliance of a play like Lynn Nottage’s set-in-Congo Pulitzer Prize winner Ruined...
The winsome Ehly and tormented Pace soldier on through the back-and-forth Mwaluko gives Bobby and Awino.
Archie conveys the dignity, worry, affection and anger in the Chief’s relationship with Awino. The affectionate bond the Chief has with Hart’s domineering Mama Mugabe provides a sweet, fleeting respite from the brewing crisis over Awino. Hart, playing a woman who is (to western eyes) the villain of the piece, boldly conveys the unquestioning embrace of brutalizing tradition. The play’s artfully staged final scene, involving all the wives and Awino, is excruciating and unbearable.

Thinking Cap, an increasingly significant South Florida theater company, is all about delivering provocative, intellectually and emotionally compelling drama. Though the storytelling in Waafrika is flawed, the story is an important one. 
Bill Hirschman reviewed for Florida Theater On Stage:
Thinking Cap Theatre’s production of Nick Hadikwa Mwaluko’s Waafrika is a deeply earnest and illuminating if imperfect examination of the toxicity of tradition. But even Waafrika’s flaws are washed away by one of the most harrowing finales seen on a local stage.

The arc of this tale is a tragedy, and we won’t give away the cringe-inducing denouement, but you’ll likely see it coming. That doesn’t rob it of an iota of its power as staged by director Nicole Stodard.
Among (Mwaluko's) gifts is a skill for creating rich, musical speeches for the African characters. He melds a rural vernacular with a lilting poetry that reflects a millennia-old symbiosis with the land beneath their feet. It is so lovely that the American’s speech seems blunt, out of place and even unconvincing, even when he gives her similar lines.
The pungency of Awino’s dilemma is rooted in the affecting central performance of Makeba Pace under Stodard’s guidance. Pace exudes the sense being ripped apart like someone being drawn and quartered by wild animals... Pace’s reputation exploded locally with her stunning turn as the agonized wife of the title character in M Ensemble’s King Hedley II last year. Once again, she proves herself as an actress to watch for.

Matching her anguish is John Archie as her father, the chieftain equally trapped – in his case between his conviction in his tribe’s ethos and his profound love for a daughter who has chosen a lifestyle he cannot accept. Among the production’s strengths is Archie’s completely credible depiction of a human being writhing in an insoluble dilemma...
Kim Ehly imbues a sincerity and patient understanding into the altruistic American refugee from a privileged background. But Mwaluko has given her the least convincing lines and her scenes don’t always land truthfully. She does create an admirable chemistry with Pace crucial to making their scenes work.
The other serious failing is that Stoddard, Pace, Ehly and Mwaluko stumble over the hairpin turns in plot and emotional direction... It all feels conflated and contrived
Other than Archie, it’s also a little difficult for these contemporary American actors to sell to an “enlightened” 21st Century audience what are inarguably accurate tribal sentiments... One of the chief’s wives tsk-tsks that the chief had Awino educated rather than married her off as breeding stock.... Mwaluko is not completely unsympathetic to the traditionalists. He has that same hide-bound character reference the fight for independence from the British. “We fought so this generation would not have to.”
This mixed bag of virtues and deficiencies still results in an intriguing evening of theater that speaks directly to the audience’s experience with struggling to be true to themselves in a world that is too slow to change.
 Thinking Cap Theatre presents WAAFRICA at Empire Stage through June 9, 2013.

Palm Beach Dramaworks: Dancing At Lughnasa (3 reviews)

Palm Beach Dramaworks opened its production of Brian Friel's Dancing at Lughnasa on May 24, 2013.
The Mundy sisters make the most of their simple existence in rural Ireland in this poignant, Tony Award-winning memory play, told from the perspective of the youngest daughter's son.
J. Barry Lewis directed a cast that featured Cliff Burgess, Margery Lowe, Declan Mooney, Meghan Moroney, Gretchen Porro, Julie Rowe, Erin Joy Schmidt, and John Leonard Thompson, with choreography by Lynette Barkley.

The mysterious Darrel Hofheinz wrote for The Palm Beach Daily News:
In Dancing at Lughnasa, the 1992 Tony award winner for best play, dance is a recurring metaphor, a vivid representation of how the human spirit strives to break free of crippling restraints. It’s a challenging conceit, but a successful one in this production. The talented ensemble understands and embraces these characters heart and soul.
Director J. Barry Lewis obviously understands that this play requires a delicate touch. Shifts in mood are handled gracefully, helped along by Steve Shapiro’s evocative sound design and Ron Burns’ lighting. Likewise, Brian O’Keefe’s costumes are exactly right, as is Jeff Modereger’s design of the farmhouse kitchen and yard. Lynette Barkley’s choreography is also on point, from floor-busting Irish folk dances to sleeker moves that recall the grace of Astaire and Rogers.
Mooney plays Michael both as a grown man and, surprisingly, as a 7-year-old — we can’t see the boy in those scenes, but the other characters can, and the effect is charming.
As Chris, the marvelous Gretchen Porro simply lights up — there’s really no other phrase for it — the first time she sees Gerry, and it’s hard to take your eyes off of her thereafter. Playing the Welshman Gerry, Cliff Burgess is both engaging and wistful, offering mother and son empty promises that he somehow seems to believe will come true.
John Leonard Thompson is likewise terrific as returned prodigal Father Jack...
Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:
Beautifully staged by J. Barry Lewis and engagingly acted by its uniformly strong cast, Dancing With Lughnasa is a character study that probes dreams and disappointments, familial loyalty and risk-taking, and the tension between proscribed behavior and a free-spirited approach to life..
The dancing in Lughnasa is choreographed by Lynette Barkley, who makes the movement reflective of each character. Moroney’s Maggie is a solid woman, but she’s light on her feet and something of a wild instigator. Burgess’ Gerry is a kind of con man Fred Astaire, slick as a former ballroom dance teacher would be, passionate as he twirls Chris, the woman he will always love and leave. Lowe’s tiny, shy Agnes becomes Ginger Rogers to Gerry’s Astaire, moving with the beautiful grace of the leading lady she’ll never be.

The production elements -- Jeff Modereger’s rustic set, Brian O’Keefe’s period costumes, Ron Burns’ lovely lighting, Steve Shapiro’s artful sound design -- are just-right expressions of the world Friel summons.
Bill Hirschman reviewed for Florida Theater On Stage:
Under J. Barry Lewis’ brilliant direction of an inspired pitch-perfect cast, establishing the tone, mood, characters and relationships is more important than creating a driving narrative. As Michael tells the audience, “In that memory, atmosphere is more real than incident and everything is simultaneously actual and illusory.”
If you are familiar with the play, you know there is a celebrated scene in which the sisters join in an impromptu dance to a tune on the radio. In the hands of Lewis, this cast and choreographer Lynnette Barkley, it is an undiluted triumph.
Once again, a cast under Lewis’ direction gives lessons in acting.  In this case, class, notice how they listen intently to what is happening elsewhere in the scene even when they have no dialogue... While they all excel in this, Lowe’s face perpetually communicates the range of pain and pleasure simmering under the surface.

Thompson, who has played everything from the venal Teach in American Buffalo to the preacher in Candida, deserves a special nod for his heart-breaking scenes of a once-fine now-addled mind trying to find words... Thompson makes it clear that Jack has surrendered his repressive Christian faith to the more joyous native religion – the real reason for his recall.
As always, Dramaworks technical crew is among the finest in the region including Brian O’Keefe’s costumes, Ron Burns’ lighting, Steve Shapiro’s sound design and choice of music and James Danford’s stage management. A special shout out is due to Dramaworks newcomer Jeff Modereger for his evocative design of the Mundy’s modest time-worn brick-and-plaster cottage...
Palm Beach Dramaworks presnets Dancing at Lughnasa through June 16, 2013.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Scene for May 24, 2013

Did you survive last week's torrential downpours?  As the official theater season winds to an end, the rainy season is just beginning.

Yes, the official theatre season is ending, but that doesn't mean theater is coming to an end for the year.  South Florida has developed a robust summer theater season, and quite a few of the smaller companies don't even program by the season anymore.

So not only are there still plays running this holiday weekend, we even have new shows opening up across south Florida - just in time to get out of the rain!
Here's what's playing on the scene this weekend.


Thinking Cap Theater opens up WAAFRIKA at Empire Stage this weekend, through June 9.

Dancing at Lughnasa starts at Palm Beach Dramaworks, and runs through June 16.  Get your tickets early, we expect this one to pack them in.

Outré Theater Company opens its fully realized production of tick...tick... BOOM!  They did a staged reading a couple of years ago that got rave reviews.  It's playing at the Mizner Park Cultural Center through June 9, 2013.

you still haven't missed...

White Rose Miami is performing The Pillowman somewhere around Miami.  Check their Facebook page for details.

Cock plays at GableStage through June 16, 2013.

Road Through Heaven plays at New Theatre through June 2, 2013.

Actors' Playhouse presents The Fox on the Fairway at the Miracle Theater through June 2, 2013.
Teatro en Miami Studio offers Chat through June 22nd.

Apparently, My Son The Waiter was extended through June 30 at the Broward Stage Door Theater.

community and conservatory...

Andrews Living Arts Studio presents Rent through June 16.

Sylvia opens at the Delray Beach Playhouse this weekend, through June 2.
I’m Still Here!: Harold Prince – The Man Who Transformed Broadway (Part Two: 1970 – Present) also plays at the Delray Beach Playhouse through June 5.

for kids...

The Miami Children's Theater presents Legally Blonde at the Alper JCC through June 2.

Actors' Playhouse presents the original children's musical Excellent Conquest through May 25, 2013.
Inanna and the Huluppu Tree returns to the Miami Theater Center through June 2, 2013

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Off Stage Conversations

Hello Everyone -- it's Andie Arthur, executive director of the South Florida Theatre League and I'm back for this Wednesday's Off Stage Conversations. Apologies for missing last week. I've been pretty sick. (Bronchitis is no one's friend.)

A Look at How You Ask For Money

As artists and as those working in arts organizations, we ask for money a lot. We raise money through galas, grant writing, and the general ask in a curtain speech. But I think we as a community could do much better at targeting our asks. Sophie Hudson has a great piece in the Guardian about how to approach baby boomers for legacy gifts, citing how folks living longer and having uncertainty for their children and grandchildren will effect their giving. It's a very specific kind of ask to be smart about, but it opens up a good question of how we approach all our potential donors.

One of the ways we could be better about this is to make room for smaller donors. In the past year, I got an ask from an arts organization (that I personally really love) asking me for $1,000. That's about half my monthly income and more than my rent. I was flabbergasted and rather disappointed that they didn't think to target their ask. If they had asked me for $10, I probably would have given it. Compare that to the Obama campaign, who consistently asked me for $6 and ended up getting over $100 in $6 increments.

And even though the infrastructure for the Obama campaign is hard to replicate in a small non-profit, we can still find ways to target smaller donors, instead of treating them the same way as we do larger donors. Crowd funding is a great way to do this -- but even then, the projects that get funded are the ones that really give back to their small donors. My personal favorite kickstarter campaign ever was Travis Bedard's one for Messenger #4. I donated $10 to a production that I never got a chance to see because it was in another state, but I got a haiku. And I value that haiku far more than I would ever value my name in a program. I see so many crowd funding campaigns that ignore the potential of gaining donors via great perks and it makes me sad, because there is so much potential wasted. And perks should start low, as the majority of donors give $10-$25.

I understand that targeting asks takes time -- if you need to do a broad appeal, then focus on your story -- why is this art important. And preferably in a positive way. Kate Powers' Kickstarter for Rehabilitation Through the Arts that was featured on Mondays are Dark (due to Amazon's ineptness) really focuses on what this program does for the participants. And I donated my $10, mainly because I've been following her story on how transformative this work really is.

(Now let us see who comes to me with a $10 ask...and then I'll know who is reading the blog.)

Speaking of Telling Your Story

Howard Sherman has a great piece on advertising and how we should focus on what the story of the play is about in selling the play. How often do you take a good look at your advertising and check to see if it really reflects the play? I've heard a great story about a theatre class that thought a intelligent drama about the price of warfare was a children's show simply because that's the story they got from the poster. It's always good to check in with people who aren't in depths of the process with you to see if your advertising is getting the right message across. And even if you're doing Hamlet, you can't assume that everyone knows exactly what they're getting into.

What Arts Organizations Can Learn from Public Radio

Technology in the arts has a piece on what arts organizations can learn from public radio. Note... donor perks are one of the things they talk about.

National New Play Exchange

The National New Play Network (currently headed by Nan Barnett) has announced that they've gone a significant grant to build a New Play Exchange. The lit manager for Undermain Theatre weighs in on how this could transform the field.

Practical Social Media Advice

Why You Shouldn't Post to Facebook via Hootsuite

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

GableStage: Cock (6 reviews)

GableStage opened its production of Mike Bartlett's award-winning play Cock on May 18, 2013.
A provocatively titled play about an unlikely love triangle that was a huge hit in London and New York. When a gay man takes a break from his boyfriend the last thing he expects is to suddenly meet the woman of his dreams. Filled with guilt and indecision, he decides there's only one way to straighten this out. A playful, candid look at one man's sexuality and the difficulties that arise when you realize you have a choice.
Joseph Adler directed a cast that included Ryan Didato, Julie Kleiner, Peter Galman, and Nicholas Richberg.

Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:
Describing the overarching quality of the newest play at GableStage as “taut” is rather like calling a tax audit “worrisome.” Neither word fully does justice to the swirl of complex emotions each is meant to summarize. Certainly, that’s true of Mike Bartlett’s provocatively titled Cock, which is meant to evoke a ferocious cockfight -- and more.

The actors stalk and circle each other but almost never come into physical contact. Yet their the in-the-moment descriptions of sexual experiences are vividly evocative, despite the fact that no one sheds so much as a shoe. Getting theatergoers to “see” and feel what the characters are going through is an act of collaborative imagination, one pulled off brilliantly by director Joseph Adler and his excellent cast.
Didato is appealing and empathetic in a role that might otherwise grow wearisome because of John’s waffling indecision. And, like his cast mates, he sports a convincing, unwavering British accent. Kleiner, though dressed in an oddly dowdy fashion by costumer Ellis Tillman (he makes the guys look much better), glows in the role of a young woman who probably ought to give more thought to her choice of mates.
Richberg is, simply, superb. As is often the case, the actor crafts a performance that is utterly convincing, complex and always compelling. His M possesses a quick, withering wit, a weapon he’s quick to wield in asserting his dominance over John. He’s amusing, at times bitchy, and he makes you see why M frustrates John. Yet when John cuts M to the quick, Richberg’s thrumming fingers and the set of his mouth signal his pain in a way that suddenly deepens an already rich play. Bravo. 
Mary Damiano reviewed for Florida Theater On Stage:
Cock... is filled with opportunities for characters to get naked, and GableStage artistic director Joseph Adler is known for getting his actors to show a substantial amount of skin on stage.  Instead, characters stay completely clothed and engage in a version of oral sex — in this case, describing their sex acts aloud — while practicing the restraint of hardly touching at all.  And guess what?  It’s sexy.  It’s very sexy.
As John, Didato embodies the character’s confusion as well as insecurity.  Kleiner does well with her role of the everywoman fighting for her happily ever after. Peter Galman is funny and touching as John’s boyfriend’s father, who comes to dinner to help his son fight for John.

But the standout here is Richberg, who imbues his character with texture and soul. Even though John is the character in conflict, John’s boyfriend, in Richberg’s capable hands, is the one who seems to go through the most changes. Sometimes he’s catty, hateful and venomous, and sometimes he’s insightful, loving and vulnerable. Sometimes he oppresses, other times he seems the real victim of the piece. And Richberg’s performance is riveting.
Roger Martin reviewed for miamiartzine:
Last night I dreamt about cock. No, silly, not the appendage. The brilliant play Cock playing now at GableStage. Brilliance does that. It takes a little power nap right in your brain and then, snap, it's driving your dreams.
Ryan Didato as the young John never falls into the trap of annoying 'will he won't he' as he discovers his bi-sexuality; his pain as he seeks his place is real. His is a terrific performance in a difficult role.

Not that the others get to cruise. Julie Kleiner as the divorced and lonely W who falls in love with John brings an almost desperate sensuality and the scene in which she and John consummate their affair screams lust discovered without a trouser dropped or a dress hiked high.

Peter Galman as F brings everything you'd expect from an actor with his vast experience to a role smaller than the others but no less demanding.
But it is to Nicholas Richberg that the chops award must go. His abandoned lover, M, has the pettiness and the bite of a scared man, losing everything and knowing that the material offers no solace. 
And tying this together is the outstanding direction of Joe Adler who brings out the tenderness of the obscenity laden, starkly sensual and very funny script.
John Thomason reviewed for The Miami New Times:
GableStage's production of Cock contains what might go down (pun intended) as the most arousing sex scene you'll see onstage all year. Except you won't actually see it. Contrary to the expectations of its saucy title, Cock is chaste as can be. Physical contact is limited to the occasional embrace of hands in this rendition, and even those moments seem to defy the strict orders of UK playwright Mike Bartlett.
But you could almost feel the entire auditorium grow a few degrees hotter during the play's central sex scene...
Cock is an electrifying exercise in audience imagination; we're often asked to literalize what we can't see, to create our own imagery from the ethereal metaphors percolating in its empty spaces. The magical balancing act between emotional openness and physical prohibition is vital to this challenging, self-reflexive play, produced with superb and creative direction by Joseph Adler.
Adler's cast is uniformly excellent, all of them Americans speaking with unflagging British accents. Didato makes his character's confusion, indecision, and repressed torment palpable, and Kleiner, though not necessarily resembling Bartlett's buxom, ultrafeminine creation, excellently captures W's warmth and sensitivity as well as her hidden feistiness and well-masked insecurity, even when she seems to be winning the competition for John's affections.

But it's Richberg who towers above both in a bravura performance of a man who is both dastardly manipulative and magnetically attractive. He finds humor in hurtful lines while capturing the vulnerability hidden beneath moments of brash bluster, rooting out all of the hidden meanings.
There is no logical way for Cock to end happily, and Bartlett deserves credit for not scripting a Hollywood ending. John's fateful choice is important, but his decision is less vital than the greater points Cock raises about the increasingly amorphous nature of sexual attraction and gender identity — about the outmoded status of orientations and pigeonholes, of even such a seemingly encompassing label such as "bisexual."

Hap Erstein reviewed for Palm Beach ArtsPaper:
...Adler has gathered a first-rate cast and orchestrated them to razor-sharp perfection. While they work as a well-balanced ensemble, Richberg manages to stand out with the bitchy spin he puts on each acidic line reading. Didato, so impressive as Mark Rothko’s assistant in Red, shows here that he has the skill and range for a sustained career in the theater.

Kleiner shows she can handle herself in this heady company, even if W is essentially a pawn in this battle. And Peter Galman injects himself capably into the fray as M’s father (yes, known only as F).
  Ron Levitt wrote for ENV Magazine: intelligent, astutely directed production with some of the finest  acting seen in South Florida in many years.
This is Joseph Adler’s 92nd production at the Biltmore site and his adroit direction is apparent as the four actors dominate the stage.  It is by no means a simple reminder of why Adler has the most production and directing Carbonells  of anyone else in South Florida.  Once again, his mark of excellence is apparent.
...let us heap praise on both Didato and Richberg....  Richberg is truly brilliant as the deeply hurt partner – joining with the superb performance of Didato as the confused John – a frustrated fellow who doesn’t seem to know what he wants.
Kleiner... and New York actor Galman are up to expectations in their supporting roles, as well.  Adler obviously chose this cast with care.  It would be half as much fun in lesser hands.
Cock plays at GableStage through June 16, 2013.

New Theatre: Road Through Heaven (reviews)

New Theatre premiered Ricky J Martinez's Road Through Heaven on May 17, 2013
Part of the Cuban Culture Week in NYC presented by The Cuban Artists Fund; also received readings at Teatro Paraguas, Repertorio Español, and Shotgun Productions. This poetic work questions unconditional love, the nature of self-development, and the willing of dreams into reality.
Margaret Ledford directed a cast that featured Evelyn Perez, Javier Cabrera, Ricky J. Martinez, Julissa Calderon, with Enzo Roque and David A. Gonzalez alternating in the role of the child.

Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:
The script is the second in a trilogy by Martinez, the company’s artistic director. Though it has virtues and flaws (as so many new plays do), it’s a stronger piece than 2007’s Sin Full Heaven.
Since Martinez is appearing in the play as Victor, he has turned over directing duties to Margaret M. Ledford, who stages Road Through Heaven with lyricism, humor and grace.
Designer Amanda Sparhawk creates a tidily kept, modest island home for the rich-in-love family, underscoring their relationship with a wooden triangle set into the floor.
As a playwright, Martinez blends island superstition and ritual with the bedrock human longing to connect, be loved and build a family. Magical realism figures into the play, and the two characters outside the triangle are different but delightful life forces: María (Julissa Calderon), a strong and spirited neighbor who dreams of becoming an actress, and an energetic but silent little boy (Enzo Roque and David A. Gonzalez alternate in the role). The child, unseen by everyone except Dolores, is the spirit of her unborn child and a harbinger of danger
Perhaps, with some work on the trio at the play’s core, Road Through Heaven could move from the realm of fantasy and deepen into something richer, more complex and more moving.
Road Through Heaven plays at New Theatre through June 2, 2013.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Mondays are Dark

Today's "dark" theater is the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts.  Despite all the lights for their photo shoot, a theater without an audience is technically "dark."

The Arsht Center is the newest of the major south Florida Performing Arts Center in this class; The Kravis Center was first, followed a year later by the Broward Center.  The South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center is much new, but it's not the same scale.

Here's your Monday reading list:

Tuesday Isn't Dark
Florida Theater On Stage reminds us that Tuesday is the 11th Annual Cappies Awards the Broward Center for the Performing Arts.

Cool New Service
Need a Playbill for your school's spring musical?  Or a community theater staging another classic comedy?  Playbill has a new program to create.. programs.

Rising Up
The first production is Ground Up’s presentation of Hoch’s Jails, Hospitals & Hip-Hop slated for Mondays and Tuesdays, May 21,22, 27 and 28 at the O Cinema Wynwood...
Sounds a Little Like 'Lost'
The Drama Queen gives us some background on the new play at New Theater.
...Road Through Heaven is part of what Martinez calls In God's Land: An Island Trilogy.  It is set on "a forgotten island" in the Caribbean, focusing on three people whose lives become entwined:  Jesus (Javier Cabrera), a 21-year-old who was orphaned at the age of 12;  Dolores (Evelyn Perez), a tough woman in her late 30s; and Victor (Martinez), a hard worker devoted to his woman and, increasingly, to the younger man.
Road Through Heaven opened over the weekend, and plays through June 2.

Read more here:

The Playslingers

Florida Theater On Stage tells us about another theater company that's reappeared; White Rose Miami ("Have Play, Will Travel") is taking a production of The Pillowman around town.  And we mean just that:
Some of the venues in the third week still haven’t been nailed down, but negotiations are underway with storefronts on South Beach and galleries in Wynwood.
Maybe they'll buy a step-van and start a "play truck" trend.

In Hell With A Cell Phone
Playbill reports that a theater critic grabbed a theater patron's cell phone during a performance and hurled it across the room, resulting in his expulsion from the theater.  CNN published reviewer Kevin Williamson's explanation of why he took the woman's cell phone.  And frankly, the ushers tossed out the wrong party.  We should all pay heed to Mr. Williamson's experience.

On the Boards with Alan Jacobson
Florida Theater On Stage links to a podcast of an interview of Alan Jacobson in partnership with Arts Radio Network.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Scene for May 17, 2013.

The official theater season is coming to an end soon, but you might not notice from all the offerings still listed on The Scene.  It looks like we may have a seamless transition into the Summer Theatre Season.

We have a couple of plays openings down in Miami-Dade County this weekend, a few great shows closing, some classics playing at community theaters, and a scattering of excellent children's shows.  So, something for everyone.

We understand that the South Florida Theatre League has worked out its schedule for appearances of their Coconut Grove Bed Race entry at member companies throughout the summer season - we'll be including those in our weekly outlook, so you know where you'll have the opportunity to Get In Bed With The Arts.
Here's what's playing on the scene this weekend.


New Theatre opens its world premiere production of Road Through Heaven at the Roxy Performing Arts Center, through June 2.

Gablestage opens the award winning Cock this weekend, through June 16.

you still haven't missed...

Actors' Playhouse presents The Fox on the Fairway at the Miracle Theater through June 2, 2013.
Teatro en Miami Studio offers Chat through June 22nd.

last chance to see...
The National tour of War Horse finishes its run at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts this Sunday, May 19, 2013.  Do NOT miss this one

If you find yourself in Key West, The Waterfront Playhouse is offering Deathtrap through May 18.
Zoetic Stage's critically lauded production of Evan Smith's The Savannah Disputation winds up its run at the Arsht Center through May 18, 2013.

Boca Raton Theatre Guild presents Avi Hoffman in Still Jewish After All These Years at the Willow Theater through May 19.

community and conservatory...

Sylvia opens at the Delray Beach Playhouse this weekend, through June 2.

Students perform Footloose at The Arts Garage through Sunday.

The Main Street Players offers Glengarry Glen Ross through May 19.
I’m Still Here!: Harold Prince – The Man Who Transformed Broadway (Part Two: 1970 – Present) plays at the Delray Beach Playhouse through June 5.

for kids...

It's The Three Little Pigs at the Miniaci Theatre at Nova Southeastern University; Sunday only, but it's Family Fun Day!

Fort Lauderdale Children's Theatre offers Disney's The Little Mermaid this weekend.

Once Upon A Mattress plays at the Miami Children's Theater through May 18.
Sol Children's Theatre Troupe performs You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown through May 19, 2013.
Actors' Playhouse presents the original children's musical Excellent Conquest through May 25, 2013.
Inanna and the Huluppu Tree returns to the Miami Theater Center through June 2, 2013

Monday, May 13, 2013

Mondays are Dark

This Monday isn't entirely dark; The Plaza Theatre in Manalapan presents Being Alive, the Music of Stephen Sondheim. It features the talents of Wayne LeGette and Mia Matthews.  You can catch it tonight, and next week.

Lots of good stuff opening this week, be sure to check back Thursday for our weekly run-down of what's playing the local Theatre Scene

So without further ado, here's your Monday reading list!

Now Playing
Carol Kassie Theatrical Marketing re-posts an article about Avi Hoffman's Still Jewish After All These Years, which is presented by the Boca Raton Theatre Guild at the Willow Theater through this Sunday, May 19.

miamiartizine talks with one of the puppeteers from War Horse.  It's playing at the Broward Center, and also ends on May 19.  Don't miss it!

Garage Sale
The Wick Theatre is cleaning out all the stuff that the Caldwell Theatre Company left behind, according to Florida Theater On Stage.  

Speaking of Closed Theaters
The Producer's Perspective wonders where all the dinner theaters have gone.  In South Florida, we used to have the Burt Reynolds Dinner Theatre, the Jan McArt Dinner Theatre, and the Musicana Dinner Theater.  Now we're down to Laffing Matterz.  Except they're dark for the off-season.  And they're not doing traditional fare, it's a sketch-comedy revue with funny songs.  Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Theater Re-Opening
The Palm Beach Daily News reports that the  National Arts Institute should have a lease for the Royal Poinciana Playhouse in a matter of weeks.

A couple of different articles about crowdfunding;  Mission Paradox reports the ins and outs of crowd funding, while 2AM Theatre can't even get their campaign posted due to bungled red tape.

Speaking of Revenue
The Houghton Library Blog delves into the history of theater's mainstay source of revenue; the ticket.

WLRN visits the Broward Center's Club Level during a recent performance of War Horse.
Eric Chirinsky stands at the bar of the Broward Center's new lounge Club Level, drink in hand, watching the Miami Heat battle the Chicago Bulls on a flat-screen TV.... But his wife, Katarina, isn't focused on pro basketball right now.  She's sitting alone, enjoying a plate of hors d'oeuvres and a glass of bubbly.

"He's watching the game, I'm having my champagne and the children are home, so everybody's happy!" she exclaims.
We love happy endings.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Actors' Playhouse: The Fox on the Fairway (reviews)

Actors' Playhouse opened its production of Ken Ludwig's The Fox on the Fairway on May 10, 2013.
...a charming screwball adventure about love, life, and man's eternal love affair with ... golf. Written by Ken Ludwig (Lend Me a Tenor, Moon Over Buffalo), the author hits a hole-in-one with his tribute to the great English farces of the 1930s and 1940s. Two rival country clubs, Quail Valley and Crouching Squirrel, prepare for their annual grudge match. A massive private wager is made between the two CEOs just before the best player switches teams. Filled with mistaken romance, dreadful attire, emotional mulligans and silly shenanigans, The Fox On The Fairway is a “tour-de-course” of rapid-fire chip shots and frenzied miscommunications.
David Arisco directed a cast that featured Ken Clement, Clay Cartland, Betsy Graver, Todd Allen Durkin, Margot Moreland, and Amy McKenna.

Michelle F. Solomon wrote for Florida Theater On Stage:
Playwright Ken Ludwig fashioned his play The Fox on the Fairway after high comedies of the 1930s and 40s — you know, Noel Coward’s Blithe Spirit, Kaufman and Hart’s You Can’t Take It With You.  And while shades of the Aldwych farces set the tone of the production now at Actors’ Playhouse, The Fox on the Fairway plays more like a 1970s sitcom.

Under David Arisco’s smart direction and the assemblage of a can’t-miss cast, Actors’ Playhouse has found a way to outfox this sometimes dimwitted homage.
Durkin is absolutely dastardly as Dickie, stealing every scene he’s in with his mixed-up metaphors and a slippery tongue that seems to have a life of its own... The actor also has the unmitigated pleasure of wearing some of the most hideous golf sweaters and loud golf pants ever to see the light of day (three cheers to costume designer Ellis Tillman for these gets ups and all of the delightful and spot-on costuming in Fox).
Cartland plays Justin to comedic crescendo...  incredible feats of physical comedy, crashing through doors, falling over couches and dialing a phone with his arm hoisted in a sling.
Amy McKenna is absolutely fetching as the over-sexed Pamela Peabody, a member of Quail Valley, and Dickie Bell’s former wife.
Margot Moreland is the icing on the over-the-top cake as Muriel, the oppressive wife of Bingham and owner of Ye Olde Crock antiques store. Moreland’s comic timing, especially during her surprise entrance, is priceless.
Arisco and Actors’ Playhouse have taken on a challenge with The Fox on the Fairway... Ludwig calls for the cast to create Herculean feats of Marx Brothers mayhem... but Arisco, the cast and the production team are not only up for the task, they rise to the occasion.
Howard Cohen reviewed was sent by The Miami Herald:
Imagine an episode of racy Three’s Company in which Jack Tripper gets conned by Mr. Roper to masquerade as a golfer to win a bet, with ditzy roommate Chrissy Snow adding complications through a series of misunderstandings and pratfalls.

What works on a 30-minute farcical TV sitcom needs to be performed to near perfection, with crisp direction, to succeed as a two-act, two-hour live stage production. Fortunately, Actors’ Playhouse’s presentation features some standout talent on stage and off who give it their all — sometimes, too much of their all — so that Fox on the Fairway, for its few water traps, ultimately sends its audience home amused and entertained.
Arisco... gets the most out of Gene Seyffer’s attractively appropriate lounge set of woodwork, French doors and lobby furniture, upon which the cast races about. Alexander Herrin’s smart sound design makes the off-stage golf tournament come to life through clever panning of audio effects.

Arisco also gets fine performances from Clement who becomes so many club managers you’ve probably encountered, and snickered at, over the years. Cartland exhibits a likable bit of Steve Martin’s comic timing from The Jerk-era, and McKenna, who... proves she can handle slapstick comedy with aplomb. You’ll laugh as she attempts to fish out a wayward oyster from the confines of her bountiful décolletage or gets caught in a lip-lock with befuddled Justin just as Louise barges into the Tap Room. “It wasn’t me!” he innocently stammers. “She was using my lips.”
Actors' Playhouse presents The Fox on the Fairway at the Miracle Theater through June 2, 2013.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

The Scene for May 10, 2013

It's a busy week on the South Florida Theatre Scene!  It seems everyone is trying to take advantage of Mother's Day on Sunday by giving you lots of options to take your mom to see a show.

We're taking our mother to see War Horse.  But there's lots to see; be sure to check theater websites about Mothers' Day offerings, or ask at the box office.  It's hard to pick from the plethora of fine productions; but it's great to have that kind of problem.

Here's what's playing on the scene this weekend.


Actors' Playhouse opens The Fox On The Fairway at the Miracle Theater, through June 2.

Boca Raton Theatre Guild presents Avi Hoffman in Still Jewish After All These Years at the Willow Theater through May 19.

you still haven't missed...

If you find yourself in Key West, The Waterfront Playhouse is offering Deathtrap through May 18.
Teatro en Miami Studio offers Chat through June 22nd.
Zoetic Stage presents its production of Evan Smith's The Savannah Disputation at the Arsht Center through May 18, 2013.

coming and going...

The National tour of Memphis plays at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts through  May 12, 2013.

The National tour of War Horse plays at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts through May 19, 2013.

last chance to see...
Waist Watchers the Musical has been packing them in at The Plaza Theatre - its extended run ends May 12, but look for it to return soon.

Laffing Matterz  is winding up another successful season at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts; ask about their Mothers' Day Special.

community and conservatory...

The African-American Performing Arts Community Theater (AAPACT) production of Anne & Emmett plays at the African Heritage Cultural Arts Center through May 12, 2013.

The Main Street Players offers Glengarry Glen Ross through May 19.
I’m Still Here!: Harold Prince – The Man Who Transformed Broadway (Part Two: 1970 – Present) plays at the Delray Beach Playhouse through June 5.

for kids...

It's The Three Little Pigs at the Miniaci Theatre at Nova Southeastern University; Sunday only, but it's Family Fun Day!

Fort Lauderdale Children's Theatre offers Disney's The Little Mermaid this weekend.

Once Upon A Mattress plays at the Miami Children's Theater through May 18.
Sol Children's Theatre Troupe performs You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown through May 19, 2013.

Actors' Playhouse presents the original children's musical Excellent Conquest through May 25, 2013.
Inanna and the Huluppu Tree returns to the Miami Theater Center through June 2, 2013

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Broward Center: War Horse (3 reviews)

The national tour of War Horse opened at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts on May 7, 2013.
England, 1914. As World War One begins, Joey, young Albert's beloved horse, is sold to the cavalry and shipped from England to France. He's soon caught up in enemy fire, and fate takes him on an extraordinary journey, serving on both sides before finding himself alone in no man's land. But Albert cannot forget Joey and, still not old enough to enlist, he embarks on a treacherous mission to find him and bring him home.
Following the original direction by Marianne Elliott and Tom Morris, Bijan Shibani staged a cast that included Michael Wyatt Cox, Angela Reed, Cahd Jennings, Jason Loughlin, Andrew Veenstra, Brian Robert Burns, Jessica Krueger, Rob Laqui, Christopher Mai, Gregory Manley, Patrick Osteen, Jon Riddleberger, Derek Straton, Danny Yoerges, Laurabeth Breya, Catherine Gowl, and Nick LaMedica.

Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:
The horrors of war are... brought into stark, heartbreaking relief by a play whose simple style allows its true stars — magnificent, life-sized horse “puppets” that become living, breathing beings in a matter of minutes — to shine as they enthrall the imaginative child within anyone who watches them.
Nick Stafford’s War Horse script keeps the focus on Albert and Joey, together and separately, and it effectively explores betrayal, loyalty and the cost of war. Its tension-relieving comic moments, however, feel superfluous.
What makes War Horse so magical, beyond the key ingredient of the remarkable horses created by Adrian Kohler and Basil Jones of South Africa’s Handspring Puppet Company, is its simple yet powerful style. ...War Horse creates a complex world. Raging battles between the British and Germans in northern France are brought to life with little more than lighting effects, the sounds of gunfire, billowing smoke and a few men (and their horses) moving chaotically.
Staged by Bijan Sheibani (the original direction was by Marianne Elliott and Tom Morris), the tour at the Broward Center features a versatile American cast, including actor-singer John Milosich, whose haunting voice at key moments is such a vital part of the show’s musical palette. Among the production’s scattered weaker elements are the way Morf plays Albert — he seems rather slow, not the determined young hero the story needs — and the casting of an obviously adult actress as the “little” French girl Emilie.
Theater lovers addicted to Broadway at its most lavish may find War Horse too simple. But folks who go to the theater hoping to get lost in a story and longing to be moved will feel utterly fulfilled by Joey and War Horse.
Bill Hirschman reviewed (and included a lot of cool facts) for Florida Theater On Stage:
War Horse is cherished by many of us who saw it at Lincoln Center in 2011 as one of the twenty or so most moving and brilliantly executed pieces of total theater we have been privileged to see. There are adjectives that have lost their pungency by their indiscriminate use by the verbally lazy. One is amazing and another is awesome. To have seen War Horse is to be reminded of the strict dictionary definitions.
...audiences continue to be thrilled by the geniuses who designed, built and now endow breath nightly into the larger-than-life puppets that nearly transmute into flesh-and-bone horses.  And the creatures are only one element among superbly conceived and blended facets of stagecraft that produce a transporting night of theater.
The puppets are delightful, even seen in the sunlight as we did the morning before opening night. But it cannot be overstated that the triumph of War Horse is actually the superb melding of another half-dozen theatrical skill sets: minimalist but evocative settings, morphing lights and a sound design that is alternately subtle and overwhelming, affecting musical underscoring and folk songs performed live, perfect pacing recreated on the road by Bijan Sheibani (a former colleague of Miami’s Tarell Alvin McCraney) and above all, a visual sense of movement and spectacle that fuses into something you cannot experience anywhere else.
The acting is not especially stunning although absolutely serviceable, led by Alex Morf as Albert and Andrew May as German cavalry officer Friedrich Muller; bravura performances would probably detract from the illusion. But it must be noted that the thick Devon and German accents made a good deal of the dialogue unintelligible.
If the road production of War Horse falls just this side of paradise, to borrow a phrase, it’s still close enough to make the journey.

Roger Martin reviewed for miami artzine:
I’ll admit it, I’m a sucker for a sob story. Sappy, soppy, lung squeezing tales get me every time. A boy and his dog, a boy and his bird, wait for it, even a boy and his horse... It’s War Horse! Now with sobs aplenty! Now playing at the Broward Center!

And it’s a bloody marvel..
Although the emotional manipulation is rampant, all is forgiven when the miraculous horses appear. Life size puppetry at its best. And the goose ain't bad, either.
The designers of War Horse have gone for simplicity; a bare stage...Sketches of the country side, dates, place names, flying mud clods and body parts from endless exploding shells, the flash of machine gun fire; all are superimposed on a suspended screen, that seems a rent in the fabric of life.

Tumultuous sound drives the affair. And the lighting, especially in the second act, becomes a flashing black and white opera of violent storms, exploding ammunition and the madness of the World War One cavalry charges.

There's a huge cast at work here, behind the scenes, on the stage and inside the horses and all live up to the reputation preceding them. Costumes are wonderful, accents spot on, and immersion is total.
 War Horse plays at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts through May 19, 2013